The Peace Project

The music of Peace sets an atmosphere of calm and compassion, to help soothe, heal, and carry you through life’s challenges.

Peace was recorded as it was performed for Chris’s father during his time in hospice care. This extended album consists of 5 hours of Chris’s original solo vibraphone music.

Dingman casts an enveloping atmosphere throughout, creating layers of ethereal sounds – poignant melodies, swirling textures, and undulating pedal tones. It’s an immersive listening experience that many have described as transportive, meditative, deeply healing, and transformative.

Peace is available now as a download or a 5-CD box set. 

“A miracle has happened through this music. It has transformed me over and over again. It has made me stronger, made me want to live life again.”

That’s what my father, Joe Dingman, said while he was in home hospice care in July 2018. He died nine days later at the age of 72, of complications due to cardiac amyloidosis.

 I’ve often thought about what it means to want to live life knowing that you are about to die. What value does that have? And how can music help?

The Origin of Peace

When my father was sent to the ICU, my family was unprepared for how quickly his health declined, and my father himself did not realize how bad it had become. In the hospital, he was agitated, in a lot of pain, and confused. We scrambled to find ways to soothe him. Unprepared for the visit, I had a limited amount of music at my disposal, and even online playlists meant to soothe and relax seemed to fall short, especially playing from my small phone speaker. I found myself wishing I had more.

After recovering slightly, my father was sent home under hospice care, where he lived for another two months. During this time, he struggled with his very difficult circumstances. Battling symptoms of insomnia and difficulty breathing, he grappled with anxiety, depression, anger, and even panic.

 I brought my vibraphone to play for him during visits, with the intention of helping him calm down and rest. I tried my best to fill the music with love, so he could feel that and feel better. Improvising, I recorded the music as I played it. In a few weeks, there was five hours’ worth. I made CDs and my father would play them in the CD player himself, especially during his long sleepless nights. At one point during a brief stay at the inpatient hospice center, the hospice doctor put the music into his treatment plan.

 At first, the music seemed on the surface to be mainly a sleep aid. But after some time, my father began telling me that he felt the music was “designed to open up patterns of thought and being.” This was not a typical turn of phrase for him.

He came up with names for the tracks, including titles such as “Life Without Pain,” “Healing Light,” and “Special Day.” During one track, which he entitled “Sky,” he related the childhood memory of a game he used to play while gazing up at the sky, naming what the clouds looked like. It was then I realized he was processing his life experiences through the music. It meant a great deal to him.

Together, we named the collection Peace. 

Living Life Facing Death

My father said the music made him “want to live life again.” In the face of death, what could he have meant? I believe it was to dare to love others in spite of heartbreaking loss. To dream for the future, even though he wouldn’t be there. In short, the music gave him hope.

 It also helped my whole family cope by setting an atmosphere of calm and compassion. It helped remind us what was important.

During my father’s final days, we kept the music going around the clock for him. He died peacefully during the night, while the track “Sky” was playing.

 The importance of intention

Before his illness, my father loved opera, jazz, and classical music. We played him some of this music during this time, but it didn’t seem to do as much for him. He only asked to hear the more calming music I was making for him.

My family and I believe the intention behind the music was the important factor. The music he used to love was made to express strong emotions or tell a story. He didn’t need these things when he was dealing with so much hardship. He needed peace.

Why now?

Last year, I made the plan to release this album in June 2020, hoping as my father did to bring compassionate care to others through this music. I had no way of knowing what would be happening in the world. But if there was ever a right time to release this music, it is now.

In this time of global pain and mourning well beyond what many of us have experienced in our lifetimes, music can help us find a way through. As hospice chaplain Chris Sikora so beautifully wrote in his NY Times “Voices” article on May 21st, “the path through grief is mourning, and it’s music that can meet us on the path and help us keep walking.”  He goes on to say “the deepest sense of transcendence I’ve encountered has been at the times spent listening to the music families put on as they hold vigil.”

Peace is music made specifically for this vigil. It was the vigil for my father, for me and my family. And I hope it can be that kind of comfort for others. My father shared this hope deeply.

It is also my hope that this music can be of particular help to those who are going through or recovering from the serious trauma that the current health crisis is causing. After my father’s experiences in the ICU, he returned home with severe anxiety similar to that of PTSD. At the time it went undiagnosed, but I believe he suffered in part from what is called “post-ICU syndrome.” With so many medical workers and families going through similar trauma, I believe that this music will help many in a similar way that it helped my father.

Peace and Social Justice

In light of the horrific racist past and present of the U.S., and the particularly adverse affects of racial trauma on the mental health of African-Americans, I will be donating a portion of the proceeds from Peace sales to The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, helping to increase access to mental health services in the African-American community. 

As things progress I will continue to seek out more ways that this project can be of service to the systemic changes needed to achieve true equality and justice in our society. Please be in contact with any suggestions on this front. 

– Chris Dingman

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